Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Whilst in Yorkshire over Christmas, I made my first visit to The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. The building is divided into 10 gallery spaces, and is home to a collection of over 5000 works. At the core of the collection is a significant group of work by modern British artists including, most notably, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore who were both born in the Wakefield district. A section of the gallery is devoted to work from this collection.

We visited on a day when there was an outdoor ice carving workshop.

In Toby Ziegler's exhibition titled Expanded Narcissistic Envelope, the artist has created new work in response to the WW1 plaster frieze from Wakefield's collection, No Man's Land, 1918-19 by war memorial artist Charles Sergeant Jagger. On a formal level, Ziegler has echoed the shape of the frieze in his aluminium sheet which is elegantly supported by an aluminium framework. This framework also connects to the next sculptural element in the installation, a giant foot made out of cardboard.

Whereas I could relate both of these elements to the source material, I found it difficult to see the link to the 3D printer that produces a Newell teapot every day. This final element of the installation seems disparate, and the link made in the textual information supporting the exhibition is very tangental, almost like it is something that the artist is interested in, but that has no relation to the work produced for this show. 

As my friend and I contemplated the exhibition, we watched as many of the visitors were automatically drawn to the 3D printer without even considering the rest of the work. On the day that we visited, the 3D printer was not working, but I'm not sure whether this would have affected my enjoyment of the piece had this not been the case. I found myself rather frustrated by the fact that the technical equipment was what most people were interested in, yet I didn't think that it was an important element of the installation.

Alexandra Bircken's solo exhibition Eskalation demonstrates her fascination with materials such as latex, leather, wood and foam.

Folkert De Jong has drawn upon the collections of armour and contemporary weapons held by the Royal Armouries in his exhibition The Holy Land.

The group exhibition Sculpting the line: British Sculptors as Printmakers explores the links between sculpture and print. Although the surface of prints is often two-dimensional, printmaking as a process can involve methods commonly used by sculptors such as engraving, or carving, and prints can be two-dimensional representations of three dimensional forms. It was fascinating to see how artists have used both approaches in their practice.

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